AC Milan will face Charles De Ketelaere tomorrow in Bergamo, in a game that could well have implications regarding his future beyond this season.
Calciomercato.com writes how De Ketelaere will have marked this date in red on his calendar: December 9, the 15th round in Serie A, with Milan coming to the Gewiss Stadium. He should start from the bench but it is not excluded that Gasperini – given the absence of Scamacca – might start him.
De Ketelaere was bought by Milan from Club Brugge in the summer of 2022 for a fee of €36.5m as the marquee signing of the mercato after the Scudetto win. After a bright start, the Belgian quickly became a fish out of water due to tactical misunderstandings and a loss in confidence.
He went from the position of being the starting attacking midfielder to Brahim Diaz’s reserve and then by the end of the season even Ismael Bennacer and Rade Krunic were preferred as the No.10. The purchase did not go down well with Gerry Cardinale, who was happy to offload him after he sacked Paolo Maldini of course.
The Belgian’s first and, to date, only season at Milan ended with 40 appearances amassing 1,480 minutes in the league, no goals and one assist.
Pioli said of the forward: “We expected more last season, Charles expects more from himself, everyone expected more.” Maldini added in his interview with La Repubblica: “He is 21 years old, an age at which adaptation is not always immediate. The boys must be waited for, helped, pampered and taken back, continuously.”
Nonetheless, in the summer he was sold to Atalanta through the formula of a €3m paid loan with a €23m option to buy plus €4m in bonuses and a 10% resale clause in the Rossoneri’s favour. The same has happened again: he started brightly in Bergamo but since has been on a decline.
However, De Ketelaere has awakened and that should be enough for him to convince them to sign him permanently. Under Gasperini he got his first goal against Sassuolo playing as a centre-forward. When Scamacca plays there instead, CDK takes a step back and returns to the No.10 position.
Now, the 22-year-old needs to try stay away from physical problems and gain consistency, still having never played a full Serie A match. If De Ketelaere has become great, he must prove it to Atalanta and also to Milan, starting tomorrow.